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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

How People Learn II: The Science and Practice of Learning

Symposium and Discussion Forum at the 2015 AERA Annual Meeting

On April 16, 2015 the American Educational Research Association (AERA) held an open forum symposium where National Research Council (NRC) staff (Sujeeta Bhatt, SPO, BBCSS and Heidi Schweingruber, Director, BOSE) presented an overview of the NRC consensus study process, discussed the National Academies Press data highlighting the impact of the How People Learn (HPL): Brain, Mind, Experience and School (expanded edition, 2000), and described the provisional charge for a revised and expanded study, How People Learn II: The Science and Practice of Learning (HPLII). The panel also included members from the NRC committee that produced the original report (HPL) as well as prominent figures in education who reflected on what has changed or become more apparent in the science of learning since the publication of HPL. In addition, each discussant provided commentary on what they would like to see addressed in HPLII. The forum, which was standing-room only and listed as a highlight of the AERA conference, provided an important opportunity for community engagement prior to the launch of the HPLII study.

In 1999 the National Research Council first published the report, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School (the expanded edition was published in 2000), which served as a catalyst for new interdisciplinary research and as a programmatic map for agencies and organizations (e.g., National Science Foundation, private foundations) supporting education research and practice. According to data collected by the National Academies Press (NAP) on purchases and downloads of How People Learn (HPL, 2000), this volume is the third most popular report produced by the National Research Council and has been downloaded in over 70 countries and territories. HPL has been used as a central text across courses ranging from psychology and education to statistics and research methods. Although HPL continues to be used in college courses, the age of the report is beginning to affect its usefulness, especially as a central text and resource.

With the proliferation of research and journals on learning since the publication of How People Learn, the new How People Learn II (HPLII) study will serve the vital function of distilling and communicating across disciplines important findings, approaches to research, and future directions for research and development. While the original report explored implications primarily for K-12 settings, the revised study will consider a broader range of educational settings and will focus on learning from birth through adulthood and in formal and informal settings. It will address individual learners’ needs involving dimensions such as cultural concerns, learners with disabilities as well as other student populations at risk. Ultimately, it will highlight the research and research approaches with greatest potential to influence practice and policy.

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